In a span of a week, the Conservative government confirmed their feelings of indifference, disregard and utter lack of respect for indigenous people.
It seems that their contempt is solely aimed at First Nation men, First Nation women, and First Nation girls.
This is the very attitude that underlies the government legislation and (non) actions that have resulted in tragic consequences suffered by First Nation people for generations.
- For more aboriginal stories, visit CBC Aboriginal
- Full text of Peter Mansbridge's interview with Stephen Harper
The Indian Act. The Indian Residential School. Child Welfare. Theft of land. Theft of children. Theft of identity. Theft of existence. Genocide by legislation.
This, coupled with deeply entrenched stereotypes, bears life and death consequences of violence, self violence, community violence, societal violence, and systemic violence.
'Um it, it isn’t really high on our radar, to be honest ... Our ministers will continue to dialogue with those who are concerned about this.' - Prime Minister Stephen Harper on a public inquiry into missing aboriginal women
And it's the indigenous women and girls who suffer the brunt of this – going missing and being murdered in epidemic proportions in neighbourhoods, streets and highways in every part of this country.
This very heavy, dark and painful truth is a reality that affects every single person who calls Canada home.
Yet, in the very words of the prime minister: "… it isn't really high on our radar, to be honest."
And when he weakly tried to defend the efforts of his government, the Harper distinctly removed himself completely from the equation.
"Our ministers will continue to dialogue with those who are concerned about this," he said.
There are many who are concerned about this. Many who have lent their voices to call on the Conservative government for a national inquiry. Towns, cities, police forces, schools, unions, artists, musicians and families of those who've lost their mother, sister, daughter, auntie or grandma.
More than 1,200 human lives inexplicably gone, stolen. Children left motherless. Mothers left daughterless. And grandmas and aunties, gone.
Not just an issue on reserves
The prime minister continually says his government is making new laws, taking action and wants to ensure everyone is afforded the same protections.
Yet there is no evidence whatsoever that these new laws (applicable only to First Nations on reserve) have made any difference in the face of this crisis.
The Conservative government seems to be committed to making Canadians believe the violence is attributed only to First Nation men, on reserves. Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Bernard Valcourt recently made a comment in this regard, but in doing so, put his finger squarely on the problem.
"Obviously, there's a lack of respect for women and girls on reserves," he said. "So you know, if the guys grow up believing that women have no rights, that is how they are treated."
It would seem that it's the Conservative government's attitude he is describing, not the attitude of First Nations men on reserves.
Lack of respect? Absolutely.
If someone grows up believing that others don't have rights, then they treat them as if they don't have rights? Yes, yes indeed.
The Conservative government does not believe First Nation people have rights, and make their profound lack of respect painfully clear.
Harper assault a travesty, not a 'situation'
Recently, Rinelle Harper, who survived a brutal assault, challenged everyone to push for a national inquiry. And to that, Valcourt, gave a response that made me sick to my stomach.
Rinelle is 16 years old. She is still a child. A child who survived a brutal physical and sexual assault meant to kill her and the aboriginal affairs minister refers to the assault as her "situation."
It should never be OK to refer to such a brutal act as a situation, let alone one that was inflicted on a child.
To allow the federal government to continue this approach is to accept the same results – more missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
I do not believe that this is what Canadians want.
A national inquiry must be part of the action taken. Together.
Indigenous people will always take responsibility for what belongs to them, including fault when appropriate and will always work towards solutions for the benefit of all.
It's time Canadians demand their government do the same.